Open Eye: OU Advances New US Link

A tie-up between Western Governors University in the United States, and the Open University sister organisation, OU-US, will create an unprecedented new distance learning initiative for students in the US.

Western Governors is a virtual university that delivers courses using the Internet and other telecommunications and networking technologies. It was formed in 1997 by institutions in the western US to share HE distance learning resources. The two bodies are co-operating to develop the Governors Open University System (GOUS).

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the OU and WGU last month by the OU Vice-Chancellor, Sir John Daniel, who said: "We are very excited about the possibilities that Governors Open University holds for students in the US. Nowhere in the world has such a co-operative endeavour been undertaken, but we know the rewards for distance learning and for people throughout the US will make it well worthwhile."

The new body will provide students with a single contact point to pursue credit and competency-based studies. Degrees will be granted by the institution through which the student chooses to study; this could be an OU-US credit- based study programme, or a degree from one of the other bodies affiliating to GOUS.

Lord Perry's cannabis call

Lord Perry of Walton, who as Walter Perry was the first Vice-Chancellor of the Open University, chaired the House of Lords Science and Technology committee calling for cannabis to be legalised for the treatment of certain medical conditions. Lord Perry, a former professor of pharmacology, said there was enough evidence to justify cannabis being prescribed for cases of multiple sclerosis and chronic pain, and it would not be a step towards general legalisation. But government has refused to act without more evidence from clinical trials.

Aiming high

Two OU alumni have taken high office in Slovakia, where the university has been offering environment-related courses with the City University of Bratislava.

Ladislaw Miklos has become minister of the environment, while Ladislaw Ambros, elected to parliament in September, is chairman of the committee for the environment. Open Eye reported in September that former student Milos Kuzvart had been appointed environment minister in the Czech Republic.

"These OU courses were launched to help build the capacity of citizens in relation to environmental policymaking," said lecturer in environmental policymaking Dr Dave Humphreys. "They appear to be succeeding beyond expectations, with OU students now holding high ministerial office."

Christmas Cheer with AOUG

Graduates are invited to join colleagues in the AOUG for congenial company over the festive season. A variety of events have been arranged:

3 December Christmas Social, Swindon.

5 December Christmas Lunch, London.

5 December Christmas Lunch, Bristol.

11 December Christmas Dinner, Porchester.

11 December Christmas Dinner, Claygate.

12 December Christmas Lunch, Cambridge.

13 December Brass Band Concert, Styal.

19 December Christmas Music, Edinburgh.

Booking is vital! Contact Tiia Downer on 01908 655997 or